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Elizabethton girls advance to Class AA semifinals at state tournament

March 6th, 2014 10:03 pm by Douglas Fritz

Elizabethton girls advance to Class AA semifinals at state tournament

Sarah Bradley was a calming influence. (Claudia Lombardo/Actionpixtn)

MURFREESBORO — After a 16-point lead melted to the thinnest margin, Elizabethton desperately needed someone to step up.

Senior Sarah Bradley answered the call, and it seemed to finally open the door for the Marosites’ twins.

Making 9 of 11 free throws down the stretch, the Lady Cyclones defeated Livingston Academy 53-46 in the quarterfinals of the Class AA girls state basketball tournament Thursday at Murphy Center.

“We can talk about not playing like we were capable of playing,” said Lady Cyclones’ head coach Len Dugger. “We would all agree to that. But we still got the job done, and we’re playing in the semifinals again.

“I think that says a lot about this group. Other teams may not have handled that lull. It’s a tribute to these girls’ character and determination.”

Earning a 30-win season, Elizabethton won its 18th straight game and earned its second straight trip to the state semifinals. The Lady Cyclones (30-3) will face a rematch from last year’s quarterfinals against Martin Westview (25-12). Westview beat Martin Luther King, 49-47. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m. (EST).

With Kayla Marosites picking up two very early fouls, the Lady Cyclones played the first half without their leading scorer. But they were able to methodically work their way to a 27-13 halftime lead.

It was 31-15 midway through the third quarter when things started going haywire. Like a switch had been flipped, Livingston exploded for an 18-3 run to close within one point.

“I wouldn’t say we were scared,” said Bradley. “I’d say it was a wake-up call. We had to get our butts in the game.”

On the next possession, Bradley got the ball on the wing and went full speed to the bucket for a layup and a 36-33 lead with 6:28 left in the game.

“I knew we needed to regroup and calm down as a group,” said Bradley. “I knew senior leadership had to take over. I knew if we calmed down we could get it back.”

Livingston cut it to one point again, but Kayla Marosites scored on a put-back for her first points of the game.

The Cyclones got the ball back, and Livingston lost Kelci Marosites in transition. She was wide open in the corner, took her time, and knocked the bottom out of it for a 41-35 lead with 4:32 remaining.

It was Kelci’s first bucket of the game.

“I really focused when I shot it,” said Kelci. “I knew it was important.”

After a bucket by Livingston, Kelci steered home another trey ball to make it 46-39. The Lady Wildcats never fully recovered.

“The first one gave me confidence,” said Kelci.

Livingston head coach Lesley Riddle said Kelci’s shots were the difference in the late stages of the game.

“It was Kelci’s two threes from the corner,” said Riddle. “I can’t wait to see film and see what happened. We had done a really good job in transition up to that point.

“When she made the first one, I felt we could overcome it. When she made two in a row, it was a backbreaker.”

Elizabethton still had work to do, and the Lady Cyclones got it done from the free throw line. Kelci made two free throws with 56.7 seconds left to make it 48-43.

Kayla missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity with 37.7 seconds left, but regrouped with two free throws with 19.4 remaining to restore a five-point lead. She then clinched the win with two free throws with 12.2 remaining.

The Lady Cyclones hurt themselves down the stretch with turnovers and poor fouls.

“I think the girls would agree we made some not-so-good decisions in the latter part of the game,” said Dugger. “And we never found a real rhythm offensively.

“Hopefully we will come out (tonight) and be the real Elizabethton team we are.”

Kelci Marosites led the Lady Cyclones with 10 points. Emily Kiser gave Elizabethton a giant lift off the bench, scoring nine points on 3-of-5 shooting from trey country — all in the first half

“Emily just about carried us in the first half,” said Dugger.

Bradley finished with eight points and three assists while Megan Pietrowski and Sarah Robinson each totaled seven. Kayla Marosites finished with six points and three assists in 18 minutes of action.

Pietrowski was a defensive key as she guarded Livingston post Marlee Sells, holding her to 5-of-14 shooting from the field.

“She was a tough opponent, but after a couple of moves I realized I needed to take away her strong hand,” said Pietrowski. “After that, she had a hard time scoring.”

Sells totaled 11 points and nine rebounds. Rachel Reeder had 13 points for the Lady Wildcats, who finished 25-12.

Notes: Dugger said junior Kyra McCrary may have suffered a concussion and is doubtful for tonight’s game. ...

This will be the third meeting between Elizabethton and Westview in the state tournament.

The Lady Cyclones defeated Westview 61-48 last year. They lost a 51-49 decision to the Lady Chargers in the 2009 quarterfinals. …

This year’s Westview team is led by Tiffany Rechis, who had 28 of her team’s 49 points in a two-point win over Martin Luther King on Friday.

“We can’t lose her,” said Dugger. “We’ve got to get through the staggered screens. And we can’t overplay because she will go back door. She’s a tremendous player.”

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